Past Event

Conversations on the future of Europe

On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, we held an event of four conversations between Bruegel scholars and European thinkers.

Date: March 22, 2017, 11:30 am Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance

SUMMARY

See below for the Video Recording

Session 1
How fragile is the EU to the profound changes taking place in international affairs? Can it prove resilient and maintain its integrity in spite of them? The first session discussed the return of power politics in international relations and the implications for Europe.

The liberal world order is under pressure from powers seeking to revise it, including US and Russia. Motives may differ, but what these revisionist powers have in common is a belief that crude power relationships ought to replace rules-based multilateralism.

This puts the EU, a project of integration between nation states based on rules, in an awkward position: the recognition of the balance of power as the ultimate arbiter of international relations with other partners will inevitably spill over to relations between Member States. A power game within the EU can potentially break it.
What the appropriate response should be was also debated. Can Europe survive by delivering well-being to its citizens? Does the success of a model based on liberal values and multilateralism suffice to ensure the EU’s integrity by restoring optimism for and confidence in the European project? Economics certainly matter, but recent events suggest other factors are equally important. For instance, pessimism related to demographic change may partly explain the rise of nationalism.
The answer may be grounded on realist thinking: resilience can be the result of uniting against common security threats, a precondition for a common strategic vision that Europe badly needs. In this line of thinking, ability to survive is a powerful source of legitimacy, perhaps more so than economic welfare.
One obstacle, however, stands in the way: consensus on what constitutes a security threat is hard to come by in Europe.

Session 2
The discussion in the second session also centred on the outlook for the EU through the lens of identity politics. Echoing many of the points raised in the previous discussion, the problems facing Europe were likened to a “mid-life crisis”, a crisis of identity.

European integration appeared to be moving in a linear fashion up until and including the 2004 enlargement: “always bigger, always better” was the spirit. The outcomes of the French and Dutch referenda on the EU Constitution marked a turning point in that process and the beginning of self-doubt for the European project. The financial/economic and later Eurozone crises only added to the crisis of confidence.
If Europe is to overcome this crisis, it needs to rebuild its confidence. To do so, a new identity, a common language that appeals to emotion needs to complement the economic rationale of integration.
The re-definition of European identity is consistent with the original purpose of European integration. What is now the EU began primarily as a political project to roll back nationalism and prevent war, using economic integration as its means.
Nevertheless, instilling a European identity is not an easy task. The existence of strong national identities in Europe may not a priori prevent the development of a European identity altogether, but the two still seem to be in conflict for many Europeans.
With nationalism resurfacing and the possibility of war returning, 2017 can mark another turning point for the EU. This time round it can usher the gradual restoration of confidence in European integration. Fear of war and/or nationalism or economic arguments, however, will not suffice: to restore confidence, an optimistic narrative about the identity of Europe is required.

Session 3
The third session focused literally on future of Europe by touching on the attitudes of the young generations towards the EU. If European integration began as a project of peace, is it necessarily true that it still holds the same meaning for today’s young generation?
Rather than preventing war and its consequences, young people associate with the EU a sense of mobility and reaching across borders, in large part thanks to the Erasmus programme.
On the issue of identity, the young generation appears to be less inclined to see national and European identities as mutually exclusive; rather, they are viewed as overlapping but not contradicting facets of the one identity.
But the young generation has also been let down by Europe and expects more of it. On the one hand, the young generation is not immune to insecurity and fear: indeed, in most cases it is bound to bear the brunt of change, be it technological, economic or demographic.
On the other, the young demand solidarity in response to heightened uncertainty and increasingly look up to EU to provide it. Lack of employment opportunities and job precariousness experienced by young people around Europe put the EU in the spotlight; for some, the EU is held directly responsible, for others it is just falling short of its promises.
Therefore, how the young end positioning themselves towards the EU varies to a large extent. The EU can both alienate and attract young people, as shown by different voting behaviour across recent electoral contests.

Session 4 

In the last session of our Conversations on Europe event, Emmanuel Mourlon-Druol and Catherine Schenk reflected on the possible parallels that can be drawn between the past and today.
The role of International Institutions has changed…
The short-term impact on trade was deeper in the global financial crisis of 2007/8 than in the 1930s. However, in sharp contrast to the Great Depression, this time there was a quick recovery of trade fostered by political will and the appropriate institutional underpinnings.
Today, what we see is an erosion of the international commitment to free trade. This situation is perhaps comparable to the “new protectionism” of the 1970s, whereby economic slowdown caused a retreat towards economic nationalism. Currently, the role of international trade institutions has been fading, while regional trade agreements have been gaining in importance.
…and so has the position of the United States
Historically, the U.S. has kept a fair trade narrative in opposition to free trade. The country’s own concept of fair trade has been changing throughout time. While in the past it meant having access to other markets, today it may imply a shift away from multilateralism.
In fact, the United States played an important role fostering transatlantic relations at the end of the Second World War. The Marshall Aid and its conditions pressed for organizational changes in Europe and fostered the emergence of bilateral agreements. European national interests later separated the European Integration process from the Marshall Aid, and focused on the establishment of national organizations and priorities.
While there are more players in the game – since the introduction of the G7, Canada has played a role, which is now reinforced with the CETA negotiations – Trump can be seen as an opportunity for the EU to show its maturity and develop a meaningful message. In order to do so, Europe needs to learn how to swiftly find consensus over its great heterogeneity.

Event Note by Konstantinos Efstathiou and Inês Goncalves Raposo

video recording

Schedule

Mar 22, 2017

11:00-11:30

Check in and welcome coffee

11:30-12:10

Fragility and resilience of the EU

Ivan Krastev, Chairman of the Centre for Liberal Strategies ,Sofia and Permanent fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences, Vienna.

Guntram B. Wolff, Director

12:10-12:15

Short break

12:15-12:50

The EU at 60 - How to overcome a midlife crisis?

Maria Demertzis, Deputy Director

Andre Wilkens, Open Society to Offene Gesellschaft

12:50-13:30

Lunch break

13:30-14:10

Past and future of the EU from an intergenerational perspective

Johanna Nyman, Expert on youth policy and human rights

André Sapir, Senior Fellow

14:10-14:15

Short break

14:15-14:50

A historical perspective on global and translantic relations

Emmanuel Mourlon-Druol, Non-resident fellow

Catherine Schenk, Deputy Head of College / Professor of International Economic History, University of Glasgow

14:50

End

Speakers

Maria Demertzis

Deputy Director

Ivan Krastev

Chairman of the Centre for Liberal Strategies ,Sofia and Permanent fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences, Vienna.

Emmanuel Mourlon-Druol

Non-resident fellow

Johanna Nyman

Expert on youth policy and human rights

André Sapir

Senior Fellow

Catherine Schenk

Deputy Head of College / Professor of International Economic History, University of Glasgow

Andre Wilkens

Open Society to Offene Gesellschaft

Guntram B. Wolff

Director

Location & Contact

Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels

Matilda Sevon

[email protected]

Read about event More on this topic
 

Past Event

Past Event

Investment firepower for the recovery: a conversation with Philippe Donnet, CEO of Assicurazioni Generali

At this event the CEO of Assicurazioni Generali, Philippe Donnet will be in conversation with Guntram Wolff, Director of Bruegel.

Speakers: Philippe Donnet and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: July 8, 2021
Read about event More on this topic
 

Past Event

Past Event

Strengthening the weak links: future of supply chains

What new supply chains trends will we see in the post-pandemic era?

Speakers: Ebru Özdemir, André Sapir and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: July 7, 2021
Read about event
 

Past Event

Past Event

Ensuring competitiveness of low-carbon investments

At this event, speakers will introduce the core idea of commercialisation contracts, and then discuss key design elements. This includes whether contracts should be issued at the EU or national level, how competition for contracts should be organised, and which industries should be eligible for support.

Speakers: Natalia Fabra, Peter Handley, Ben McWilliams and Georg Zachmann Topic: Energy & Climate, European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: July 1, 2021
Read about event More on this topic
 

Past Event

Past Event

EU debt vs national debts: friends or foes?

The EU will become into a major issuer of safe assets in the coming years. How will this interact with the debt issuance of European sovereign debts?

Speakers: Grégory Claeys, Yves Jacob, Gert-Jan Koopman, Pablo de Ramón-Laca and Imène Rahmouni-Rousseau Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: June 29, 2021
Read about event More on this topic
 

Past Event

Past Event

How to spend it? A closer look at the recovery plans

In this event, participants will take a closer look at the recovery plans submitted by EU countries.

Speakers: Zsolt Darvas, Alex Patelis and Maarten Verwey Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: June 23, 2021
Read about event More on this topic
 

Past Event

Past Event

Conference on the Future of Europe: Vehicle for reform versus forum for reflection?

At this policy dialogue organised by the research project EU3D, panellists will discuss different options and what they may entail while revisiting the debates on the future of Europe at national and EU-level that have been conducted thus far and their patterns, including preliminary findings on national parliamentary debates.

Speakers: Sergio Fabbrini, John Erik Fossum, Magdalena Góra, Vivien Schmidt, Manfred Weber and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: June 16, 2021
Read about event More on this topic
 

Past Event

Past Event

The Recovery and Resilience Fund: Accelerating the digitalisation of the EU?

How can new EU funds financed by EU borrowing supplement national digital and green funding and EU funds available from the standard seven-year EU budget to accelerate digitalisation?

Speakers: Sam Blackie, Zsolt Darvas, Maria Teresa Fabregas Fernandez, J. Scott Marcus and Ben Wreschner Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: June 8, 2021
Read about event More on this topic
 

Past Event

Past Event

Women, Covid-19 & The EU Recovery Plan

How can we ensure that the recovery plan doesn’t leave women behind when 84% of working women in the EU aged 15-64 are employed by services that were predominantly impacted by Covid-19 restrictions?

Speakers: Mary Collins, Maria Demertzis, Alexandra Geese, Jacob Funk Kirkegaard, Dan Mobley, Naomi O'Leary and Emma Rainey Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: June 2, 2021
Read about event More on this topic
 

Past Event

Past Event

Paris Reinforce: From Numbers to Insights: How to think about economic-climate modelling

Join us for the presentation of ‘From Numbers to Insights: How to think about economic-climate modelling’.

Speakers: Haris Doukas, Ajay Gambhir, Glen Peters, Georg Zachmann and Ewelina Daniel Topic: Energy & Climate Date: May 26, 2021
Read about event More on this topic
 

Past Event

Past Event

The work of the future: How are new jobs created and what are the implications for labour markets?

Join us for a presentation of 'New Frontiers: The Origins and Content of New Work, 1940 — 2018' by David Autor (MIT and NBER) and the findings on the source of 'new work' followed by a discussion with an invited panel of academics and policy makers.

Speakers: David Autor, Maarten Goos, Barbara Kauffmann and Georgios Petropoulos Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy Date: May 25, 2021
Read about event
 

Past Event

Past Event

The Future of Work – a conversation with Commissioner Schmit

EU Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights Nicolas Schmit joins Bruegel for a conversation around the future of work.

Speakers: Mario Mariniello and Nicolas Schmit Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, Innovation & Competition Policy Date: May 25, 2021
Read about event More on this topic
 

Past Event

Past Event

After COVID-19: a most wanted recovery

This event, jointly organised with ISPI, as the National Coordinator and Chair of the T20 Italy, is part of the T20 Spring Roundtables and it will focus on strategies for a swift and sustainable economic recovery for Europe.

Speakers: Franco Bruni, Maria Demertzis, Elena Flores, Paul De Grauwe, Christian Odendahl, Miguel Otero-Iglesias and André Sapir Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: May 19, 2021
Load more posts